by Kat Rosenfield
It was all about shifting loyalties, tenuous sanity, and creative weaponization of a mom-mobile on this week's "The Walking Dead," as the prison survivors prepared for retaliation at the hands of the one-eyed Governor and the wandering Dixons explored the bounds of brotherly love. Here's your recap of last night's action.
Despite having flat-out flipped his lid in the last episode, Rick is back in control as this week's episode opens: he's moving some pallets and spying on Michonne, which seems normal enough. But this brief moment of clearheaded-ness doesn't last: Rick sees Lori again, lurking on the rickety bridge beyond the prison fence, and gives chase — leaving all the gates wide open as he plunges face-first into a makeout sesh with his ghostly bride. Michonne, behind him, looks on in alarm. Man, that awkward moment when your mentally-unhinged group leader starts french kissing the air, amirite?
Meanwhile, the Governor is busy making apologies to Andrea and promising no retaliation for the assault on Woodbury — even though we suspect that this statement is a pants-immolating lie — and asking her to use her mega-crisis-management skills to lead the Woodburians. Andrea acts reluctant, but she's also looking awfully snappy in a pair of pristine suede high heels, and can her better judgment really win out over the lure of insensible shoes and her one-eyed loverman? We'll see.
And in the zombie-infested forest Red Zone, the Dixon duo isn't faring as well as its members might've hoped: Daryl isn't the cowed baby brother he used to be, and Merle's insensitive crowing that his friends are as good as dead isn't helping. But it all comes to a head when their bickering is interrupted… by the cries of a newborn baby?! OMG! Another group of survivors is under ambush by walkers, and Daryl's better instincts take over as he leaps into the fray and saves them all (with credit for this week's Best Kill, too! Turns out that a minivan hatchback makes a heck of a head-smashing apparatus.) But while Merle does help, sort of, he also calls someone a beaner and ends up at the wrong end of Daryl's crossbow. No longer able to deny that Things Have Changed, the Dixons have it out, with Daryl more or less telling Merle that he deserved to get left on the roof in Atlanta for being such an ass.
And then, somehow, Merle rips Daryl's shirt off to reveal a mess of scars from their dysfunctional childhood, and Merle is very sorry about that, but Daryl is all, "This is awful, I'm going back to the prison."
…Where, with little time to spare before the Governor mounts his counter-attack, Glenn steps into the breach. He wants to make the first strike, with Michonne's help — and after the last few episodes, we don't doubt he could do it.
"We can't run," he growls, dead serious.
The only problem? Glenn is mostly high on rage-o-hol due to Maggie's near-rape at the hands of the Woodburians, making him a volatile leader at best. And while he fumes and sets off on his own to give what-for to the Gov, Rick has been wandering all over creation in search of Ghost Lori, leading Hershel to limp down to the fence for a serious "Dude, WTF" conversation. The good news is, Rick out-and-out confesses to hallucinating. Good, Rick! Admitting you have a problem is the first step!
Alas, rationalization is the second stop, as Rick insists that there's method to his madness.
"There's gotta be a reason," he cries. "It's gotta mean something!"
(Hershel, to his credit, does not suggest that it means he's batshizz insane.)
Intense, isn't it? Good thing we can always count on Axel for some comic relief! This time, it's in the form of his backstory — which, as it turns out, is that he perpetrated the world's saddest gas station robbery with a water pistol as a weapon. Carol, amused, shows him how to use a real gun…
…and then, his character development complete, Axel receives a bullet to the face, because the Governor is here. And he is PISSED. Automatic gunfire rains down as the survivors return fire. Axel does one final service to the group, his corpse shielding Carol from a hail of bullets. And then a truck busts through the fence, mowing down their carefully-cultivated barricade and unloading a cargo of — you guessed it — walkers. It's a bloodbath as Rick takes down one corpse after another! It's a standing ovation as Daryl and Merle emerge from the forest just in time to save Rick's behind! It's another standing ovation as Glenn makes a daring vehicular rescue and saves Hershel, who was stranded in the grass! And it's a major continuity error for that one zombie in the blue checked shirt, who keeps stumbling around in the background despite having been killed at least twice outside the fence. But that's okay.